Do We Ever Leave High School?

I've written a couple of books, Just One Look and Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones, populated by characters who had so much emotional baggage from high school that their experiences had a lasting effect on them.

A few reviewers took issue with the fact that a person would be so profoundly affected, 10 or more years later, by something that happened in high school.

I was thinking about that this morning when I learned that Is There Life After High School by Ralph Keyes is now available as an ebook.I read that book long ago and agreed with everything it said!

In my first ebook romantic comedy, Just One Look, my heroine Jennifer Monroe comes face to face, in a most embarrassing manner, with the man who had broken her heart when they were both in high school. When he not only doesn't recognize her but also inadvertently insults her, she wants payback--and she goes about getting it!

If you didn't read Mr. Keyes's book when it was first published in 1979, I recommend you do so now. It's a great resource about the effect of one's high school experience. Even 33 years later, the book is still relevant and is often quoted by other psychologists in papers, blogs, and websites.


Mr. Keyes interviewed hundreds of people across the U. S. from the obscure to the famous...  "successful and unsuccessful, after reading countless magazine articles, books, and scholarly treatises, after listening to stacks of 45 rpm records, watching television and movies, and after attending all manner of reunions (from a fifth to a fiftieth), Ralph Keyes has come to the conclusion that Kurt Vonnegut was right — high school is closer to the core of the American Experience than anything else I can think of."

Forced To Agree

I concur with Mr. Vonnegut and Mr. Keyes. In fact, I've listened to so many high school stories of heartbreak, embarrassment, and humiliation--from my generation to my kids' generation--that I often wonder if we ever leave high school behind us. For so many, the way we were treated in high school made us who we are--the good and the bad. Many of us carry those high school hurts inside just as many of us strove to excel just to prove that we were more than our high school image showed.

In JANE I'm-Still-Single JONES, my second book with past high school angst as a defining moment, my heroine Jane Louise Jones agrees to attend her 10-year high school reunion only because she thinks that Morgan Sherwood, the high school geek who left town--and her--to make it big to the tune of millions, isn't going to be there. Unfortunately, Morgan shows up, the problems begin, and the sexual tension skyrockets.

Those Who Disagree

Maybe the naysayers--those who don't believe that high school has a lasting traumatic effect--are those who were the popular kids in high school. Maybe they were the football heroes, the cheerleaders, and the beauty queens--Miss Most Popular or Mr. Most Likely To Succeed.

Takeaway Truth

I wasn't one of those. Chances are, you weren't either.


  1. I certainly wasn't one of them, Joan.

    I also believe high school has a lasting and profound impact on who we are and how we face life.

    Several of my books deal with the aftermath of high school love or crushes. I'm a sucker for reunion stories.

    BTW, I married my high school sweetheart. And he WAS one of them.


  2. AnneMarie, I loved the way you ended your comment. Kind of a take on Coco Chanel's "Best revenge is living well" isn't it?

  3. Thanks for this post, Joan. I didn't even realize how much I was tapping into high school with the current series I'm working on. I'm definitely getting Ralph Keyes' book on pay day!